Brooklyn Nets – Deron Williams & Brook Lopez Party in the Paint

Deron Williams, Kirk Hinrich

One of the interesting things about Deron Williams this season is his points per game improvement graph, scoring more and more each month. That didn’t stop in the opening game for the Brooklyn Nets in the playoffs, leading his team, along with Brook Lopez who had too little resistance from the overwhelmed Chicago Bulls under the basket, beginning the franchise’s new postseason history in a perfect way.

It’s hard to think of anyone who didn’t play well for the Nets. Even Gerald Wallace, going through a terrible season shooting-wise was too hot to stop during the Nets’ fantastic second quarter, leading them to a very convincing, easier than expected, 106-89 victory. Wallace finished with 14 points and didn’t miss a shot until the third quarter, letting his defense do the talking and putting him in the game.

Chicago shouldn’t have started Joakim Noah, who gave them 13 minutes, but wasn’t physically up for the task of guarding Brook Lopez or anyone else. Not that the rest of the players did too well either, as Lopez was allowed to score 21 points, with the Nets making more than 55% of their field goal attempts against a defense that’s supposed to be the best, or close to that, in lowering shooting numbers for teams.

Brook Lopez

The Nets scored 56 points in the paint in Game 1 Saturday, tying their most paint points in a playoff game since the 1996-97 season, scoring 40 points in the first half alone. Except for Jerry Stackhouse shooting air-balls  there wasn’t a single player who didn’t look finely tuned and perfectly ready for the series. Reggie Evans controlled the boards with 13, while the bench, with Andrey Blatche (12 points) and former Bull C.J. Watson (14 points) countered a unit that should have done better for the Chicago Bulls.

We’ve come to expect offensive inconsistency from Chicago, but Kirk Hinrich was so poor it ranked as the worst point guard performance from a Chicago Bulls player in the last 15 seasons, finishing with 2 points and 2 assists in 28 minutes. Nate Robinson did a little bit better with 17 points on 8-12 from the field, but the Bulls need a real point guard, not someone who can’t really be trusted or predicted to what he’ll give. Carlos Boozer led the way with 28 points, but he was too alone in his offensive battle, with Luol Deng on a very poor 3-11 from the field and only six points, something the Bulls can’t afford to happen.

The Brooklyn Nets have a point guard, and players who seem to be in better offensive form at the moment. When they match the intensity levels the Bulls are so proud and famous for, their quality superiority might be a bit too much to overcome. Deron Williams is once again playing like he’s one of the best point guards in the NBA, and even if the Bulls can get Noah back and counter a lot of what happens in the paint when it comes to rebounding and stopping Lopez, they don’t have an answer to Williams playing like a Dream Team player.

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